Foam roller exercises for the ITB and TFL may enhance your understanding of the body-mind connection so you can finally heal!
‘A trembling in the bones may carry a more convincing testimony than the dry documented deductions of the brain. ~ Llewelyn Powers
Scroll down the page to jump straight to the exercise video and yoga stretches if you desire.
Hopefully you have first read Foam Rolling for an overview of the importance of the body-mind connection when you use your foam roller. A simple technique for self myofascial release is accomplished by foam roller exercises. Self myofascial release is a great way to keep your muscles supple, elongated and free of stress knots. If you read Foam Rolling, I describe the body-mind-soul benefits of this activity.
Foam roller exercises help you stretch, elongate and treat your muscles. Athletes rely on the foam roller to roll out muscle knots and get them back into the game. This self myofascial release technique helps you avoid more expensive treatments provided by therapists. You can now be your own therapist when you do your foam roller exercises!
As bodyworkers know, when we release muscular tension often strong emotions are released as well. This can happen with foam rolling as we learn to focus on the areas of soreness and make the process of the foam roller exercises more meditative. Foam rolling is another way for us to learn how to 'feel it and heal it' as I am fond of saying. Emotions affect our body and they play a significant role in the healing of our body, mind and soul.
If you need to purchase a foam roller to start your exercises, I highly recommend the Power Systems foam rollers. They have a full array of sizes and types to choose from. A 36 x 6 inch roller is the easiest to manage if you are new to foam rolling. I never leave home without my 18 x 6 inch traveler. That's how important foam rolling is for me and my health!
My favorite foam roller is the Life Fitness foam roller from Power Systems. The one I purchased is the best I have to date. It is so very cushioned on the outside, but firm on the inside for effective foam rolling. It also has a textured surface to stick to my yoga mat better. It is pricier than the cheap ones, but worth every penny.
The Function of the IT Band
The Iliotibial band is not a muscle but a fibrinous band. It runs along the outside of the thigh from the top of the iliac crest (hip bone), down the side of the thigh and attaches to the outside of the tibia (shin), just below the knee. The Iliotibial band’s function is to provide stability to the knee and to assist in flexion of the knee joint, as it assists the quadriceps muscles.
The iliotibial band is often overused in runners, who develop iliotibial band syndrome when they quickly increase their mileage. When overused, the IT band becomes inflamed and causes pain, especially in the outside, lateral part of the knee and lower thigh. Tight gluteus muscles and quadriceps muscles can contribute to the Iliotibial band syndrome as well as running on uneven surfaces which causes a pelvic tilt. Pronation of the foot also contributes to the problem as well as bowed legs.
Cyclist, hikers, walkers and cross-county and telemark skiers may
get Iliotibial band syndrome as well if their activity is new or
suddenly increased. I highly recommend Yoga for Runners, if you are in this group.
The Function of the Tensor Fasciae Latae
The Tenosr Fasciae Latae (TFL) muscle is also on the top of the outer thigh and the Iliotibial band attaches to it at the top of the hip bone, to form a continuous strip that runs along the side of the leg. The tensor fasciae latae is responsible to abduct the thigh or allow the thigh and leg to move in a lateral motion. If you stand with your feet together and lift your leg out to the side, this is the action of the TFL. The tensor fasciae latae also assists the hip flexors (iliopsoas) in flexing the hip or thigh.
Meditate on the Meaning of the IT Band and TFL in Your Life
The body metaphor (See Developing Intuition by Using Your Body) for the Iliotibial band is interesting. Since the hips hold in many deep emotions that have yet to be released (see Foam Rolling for the Iliopsosis and Piriformis), it has been suggested that the Iliotibial band, specifically is the ‘guardian’ of these held emotions. Especially if you are a woman, expect that when you do foam roller exercises of the hips, Iliotibial bands and tensor fasciae latae that you may experience great feelings that you did not know you had. If you are already a runner and/or have Iliotibial band syndrome, be especially aware.
The tensor fasciae latae muscle, also on the upper, outer side of the hip and thigh is the muscle that abducts the leg, or spreads the legs and thighs. This is certainly a guarded movement for women, and may have significance for issues involving sexuality and abuse. Proceed slowly if you are doing the foam roller exercises for the Iliotibial band and tensor fasciae latae muscle for healing the body-mind-soul.
If you are a victim of sexual abuse, I strongly urge you to also view the website from Becky Herdmann, at Soul Expressions Abuse Recovery. She is a fellow RN and victim herself. She can help provide even more resources for you in your journey towards healing your body-mind-soul.
Meditative exercises on any area surrounding the hip may bring forth unexpected emotions. When you do these foam roller exercises for the Iliotibial band and tensor fasciae latae, meditate on what this tissue area may represent in your life, and if you sense held emotions that need releasing. Your guardians of your emotions may be tough to crack. Meditate on what emotions you may be guarding, if you have sore IT bands. Your Body Window may be speaking to you.
Create Positive Affirmations for Health if you have problems with the iliotibial band and tensor fasciae latae. Say things like 'I am safe, the Universe surrounds me with Love,' 'It is safe to be me, I accept all my feelings,' 'I release all that is within me and surround myself with Love,' 'My feelings are here to guide me, and tell me of my inner state and I accept them without judgement.' Create your own personal health affirmations as you feel led and as your heart opens to your own particular body-mind-soul issues.
Personalize and Adjust the Foam Roller Exercises
Feel free to vary the foam roller exercises in any way as your intuition moves you!
Listen to your body and move to the area that needs attention. When you do the foam roller exercises you will quickly discover where you hold your tension in your muscles.
Vary your body position by shifting your weight up or down, or from side to side. Vary the pressure by lifting more with your arms, or sinking deeper into the area. When you find a sore spot that needs releasing, hold the pressure there for as long as it takes for the muscle to release.
Beware of your breath, always. Never hold your breath! This is your natural tendency, but it will just create more muscle tension. Like yoga, breathe into the stretch, breathe into the pressure. This triggers your relaxation response and will eventually allow the muscle to release! This is the secret to body-mind-soul foam rolling!
You will get better at this breathing, relaxing and releasing technique the more you do the foam roller exercises.
With the releasing of the muscle knot, you may also find that emotions come up and need to be released as well. Pay attention to your body sensations and to your feelings. Notice them and thank your body for its messages. Feel the release as you relax and let go!!
Foam Roller Exercise Video for the Iliotibial Band (IT Band) and Tensor Fasciae Latae Muscle (TFL):
Brief Instructions to accompany the video below:
You can also follow up with an Iliotibial band stretch and a tensor fasciae latae stretch through yoga stretches like the Downward Dog and the Standing Forward Bend.
You can increase the Iliotibial band stretch and the tensor
fasciae latae stretch in both of these poses if you cross one leg over
the other. Shift your weight to the back leg and you should feel a
stronger pull in the side of the leg at the IT band and tensor fascia
latae. Breathe into the stretch and hold for as long as your intuition desires. Be sure to stretch on both sides using both legs as a crossover, to remain balanced.
Standing Forward Bend
Also try the Triange Pose and the Revolved Triangle Pose for an even greater iliotibial band stretch and tensor fasciae latae stretch.
Revolved Triangle Pose
If the standing poses feel too difficult, try the seated, supported poses like the Half Spinal Twist or the even easier Modified Half Spinal Twist where the outside leg is straight in front of you.
Half Spinal Twist
Modified Half Spinal Twist
Because all the muscles of the legs connect via tendons and joints, any yoga stretch that involves the legs, especially the standing poses will benefit the IT band and the TFL.
May your path to self-discovery be enhanced by these foam roller exercises, Iliotibial Band stretches and Tensor Fasciae Latae stretches and may your journey towards body-mind-soul healing with self myofascial release begin!
Related Foam Rolling Articles that You May Enjoy!:
Foam Roller Exercises for the Lower Body and Lower Back:
Foam Roller Exercises for the Upper Body and Upper Back: